Stumbling Across Dendrite Migration in Creatures 1

I was excited to return to Albia in C1 after my short ecology experiment in C3/DS! Even though the original Creatures game is the oldest in the series and somewhat outdated, I still consider it to be my favorite. There is a magical sort of charm to it that no other game has ever achieved, at least for me. Arik didn’t seem to understand how adorable he looked as he took a nap on the little cart! The two eggs he passed by were his own, and would eventually hatch into baby Norns. The first generation had a ways to go still, so Arik might only be lucky enough to meet one or two of his children.

Bera was all smiles just moments before she laid her first egg! She even found the trumpet, and decided to test out her musical skills. It was a short-lived career, but it seemed to help her through the process of laying an egg. Perhaps it helped her let out some pent up emotion: Truett took off long ago, which left Bera alone. She enjoyed my company, though, and was very content with finding ways to entertain herself. At least she wasn’t completely reliant on others for keeping her happy! The unborn Norn has a slight mutation with his or her punishment and punishment echo: Nothing very serious, thankfully!

Signe and Keir found one another and delighted in the extra company. Keir was a bit of an outcast, even though I had attempted to integrate him with the Norns. Perhaps he just enjoyed the solitude of the desert island: It certainly was the only place to watch the seahorses in the ocean! Signe had also distanced herself from the other Norns. Her infertility might have made her feel much more left out than most. The two formed a new friendship that was filled with several kisses, a beach ball, and a shared honeypot. Hopefully this would be the incentive Keir needed to meet the others. They looked very content together, with their hands close to touching like two old friends.

Little did I know that I was about to learn more about Norn genetics! In Creatures 1, it takes a lot to get a Norn pregnant. After spending a little time in Creatures 3 and Docking Station, I was stunned by the quick turnaround time with pregnancies, as well as the high success rate of kisspopping. In C1, Norns often breed at least two or three times before becoming pregnant. The amount of time from conception to the removal of progesterone from the system is typically around thirty minutes. In C3/DS, Norns reproduce like rabbits! This could be part of the reason why players can feel more disconnected: There is a new Norn to meet all the time!

It took a lot of patience and perfect timing, but Eydis was soon pregnant for the third time! Truett was in the vicinity, but Arik was the proud father once again. Like a true mother, Eydis immediately was on the hunt for a bit of food. She certainly turned out to be a very intelligent Norn: The red and yellow striped egg from the hatchery was the best choice! I decided to take a peek at the new genome. I was secretly hoping for an interesting genetic mutation, and that was definitely the case. Yet again, however, I was worried about the possible effects. The mutated gene is listed on top of the standard gene. Why the brain lobe?!

Lobes

Brain lobes include important information about how the different parts of the brain work, from how concepts are learned to how a Norn goes through the decision process. These genes can greatly affect the learning process.

Mutation: 122 7 0 Emb B Mut Lobe #=8 Min LTW=128 Max LTW=128, Min strength=1, Max strength=10, flags=0
Default: 122 7 0 Emb B Mut Lobe #=8 Min LTW=128 Max LTW=128, Min strength=1, Max strength=10, flags=2

In a nutshell, this mutation will affect the concept lobe. This lobe contains memories and concepts: In essence, it is the lobe where Norns learn through their experiences. It took me quite some time to understand what “flags=0” vs. “flags=2” actually meant. I found it in the D0 Growth tab of the Genetics Kit regarding Migration Rules. It then occurred to me that I had absolutely no idea what dendrites were, and their migration patterns were even more foreign. Did they plan on flying south for the winter? (Genetics study requires a few bad jokes!)

Dendrites are basically the connections between different lobes: Without dendrites, each brain lobe would function completely separately and make learning virtually impossible. A Norn might understand how to say a word, but he or she would never be able to apply that concept to the world. Dendrite migration refers to if and how connections migrate to other neurons. Initial dendrite migrations are defined at birth, but creatures must be able to learn over time: Dendrites would migrate as the creature learns through experiences.

A perfect example from The Creatures Developer Resource: “An example of dendritic migration is the connections between the perception lobe and the concept lobe. The perception lobe is the source lobe and the concept lobe is the destination lobe. There may be from 1-3 neurones from the perception lobe connected to a single cell in the concept lobe. As a norn is punished then the connections on the perception lobe neurones will migrate to other perception lobe neurones hopefully forming more appropriate ‘concepts’ for the norn to learn and make decisions from.”

This is the exact gene in question! In the standard gene, “flags=2” corresponds to “Migrate when ALL dens are loose.” Without going into too much detail, this means that dendrite migration will occur. With the mutated “flags=0,” the dendrites will not migrate from the perception lobe to the concept lobe. From my understanding, this Norn will not be able to learn any new behaviors that are not already defined at birth through instincts. The question becomes whether this is a positive or negative: Norns know by instinct that eating, sleeping, and breeding are good activities. Yet the extra reinforcement I offer in a Norn’s early life seems to encourage them to do these things more often. On the other hand, would this Norn be immune to picking up on bad behaviors, such as excessive slapping or running away from food? So many questions from just one little gene!

4 Comments
« Previous Post | Next Post »